How long did you breastfeed for: Three and a half years.
Why did you breastfeed: Because I could. The health benefits for the baby are also very well documented. Based on an extensive study by the Lancet, the deaths of mothers and children could be averted through universal breastfeeding. I was breastfed well past the toddler stage too, so I guess I didn’t know any better way than to feed and bond. My mum is still my best friend!
What did you love about it: Oh so much! From the deep bonding, to how it gave me an excuse to sit down and relax. It was like a magic wand that could take any pain from a fall, cut or burn instantly. And also sleep!! We co-slept whilst breastfeeding so we slept through the night feed. My son would help himself whenever.
The downside to breastfeeding: It wasn’t so much about disliking something about breastfeeding itself, but dealing with people’s reactions: the questions about when I’d stop or the obvious discomfort some people felt because my child has latched on mid-conversation. People have even asked me to cover up. Our house-help in India told me that my 18-month-old was too big to be breastfeeding still.
What would make breastfeeding easier for some moms: Breastfeeding is not easy. Period. We need to stop telling new mothers that. However, our collective responsibility should be to create a supportive environment where mothers can fully immerse themselves in the act of nourishing the baby. This way when a new mother hits a hurdle, she doesn’t blame herself and gives up altogether or worse suffer from postpartum depression or anxiety. As a friend, family or neighbour, offer cooked meals, do their laundry, wash up for them and leave the judgements out of the window. Maybe simply make them a cup of tea and sit down and listen!
Every country has different policies surrounding motherhood, what’s the experience in the U.K.: The government has to step in a lot too. From expert mental health advice to more accessible latching consultants should be made available to all new mothers through better investment into the National Health Service.
What advice do you have for other moms-to-be considering breastfeeding? Surround yourself with people who are ok with you on this journey and those who will have your back if things don’t go your way. It is okay to ask for help and take it. At the same time, it is ok to set boudaries for people who sap your energy. Drink lot of water. Nourishing a baby is a very dehydrating job!!